At this point, there’s very little difference between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. But there was one key differentiating point. Xbox gamers could only play with Xbox and PC players as Microsoft was restricting access to the multiplayer component. Microsoft just announced that game developers can now create cross-platform multiplayer modes that work with other consoles and operating systems.
So it means that the next Call of Duty or FIFA could feature a multiplayer mode that works with both Xbox and PlayStation gamers. It just depends on developers now.
Microsoft has historically restricted cross-platform play as the Xbox Live was the first successful multiplayer network for consoles. The PlayStation Network only appeared with the PlayStation 3.
And yet, Microsoft is now lagging behind the PlayStation 4 with its Xbox One. There are more online players on competing platforms, and Microsoft is now the underdog.
By opening up cross-platform multiplayer, Microsoft could convince late adopters to buy an Xbox One even though their friends have a PlayStation 4. It’s also a way to make sure that there are enough players for less popular games.
The first game that is going to support cross-platform multiplayer is Rocket League. Microsoft mentions cross-platform multiplayer between the Xbox One and Windows, but you can also expect support for PlayStation gamers as well given that the current version of Rocket League supports cross-platform multiplayer between PlayStation 4 and PC players. It’s unclear how developers are supposed to deal with duplicated PlayStation Network and Xbox Live screen names.
For PC games that were using Microsoft’s online framework, these games will also work with other operating systems, such as OS X. And finally, Xbox players will be able to restrict multiplayer modes to other Xbox players only, but it’s unclear why you’d do that except if you’re a hardcore Xbox fanboy.